Who played well in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final? Sometimes it's easy to tell, sometimes it isn't. NHL.com graded the players in the 5-1 victory by the Boston Bruins against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on Sunday that tied the best-of-7 series. Here are the players and trends that stood out the most.
[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]
Tuukka Rask (Bruins) -- This was his best game of the series. Much like Blues goalie Jordan Binnington did in Game 5, Rask kept his team in the game when the opponent was buzzing around his net almost non-stop. He was especially sharp when the Bruins were killing penalties. He made three saves on the initial penalty kill in the first period. In the second period, he made five saves and used his back to direct a puck away from the net after Brad Marchand took an offensive-zone tripping penalty. Rask made 28 saves.
Video: BOS@STL, Gm6: Rask makes 28 saves to backstop Bruins
Brad Marchand (Bruins) -- The forward had not scored since Game 1 of the Final but he found the perfect time to get one, converting a sharp-angle one-timer on a 5-on-3 at 8:40 of the first period. The shot was brilliantly set up with a cross-ice pass from David Pastrnak and it blunted the early momentum for the Blues. It was Marchand's seventh goal in Stanley Cup Final play in 19 career games, and Boston is 25-1 when Marchand scores in the postseason.
Video: BOS@STL, Gm6: Marchand goes top shelf for PPG
Torey Krug (Bruins) -- The defenseman played 22:01 and saw time on the penalty kill and the power play. He had an assist on the Marchand goal, giving him 18 points for the postseason. That's the most by a Bruins defenseman since Ray Bourque set the record with 25 in 1991. Krug was plus-2 and had five shot attempts.
Ryan O'Reilly (Blues) -- The forward scored for the third straight game, cutting the Bruins lead to 3-1 at 12:01 of the third period with a one-timer that barely got across the goal line before Rask kicked it back out. The goal was awarded on video review. O'Reilly, who had three goals in the first three rounds, has four goals in his past three games and has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past five games.
Karson Kuhlman (Bruins) -- Inserted into a do-or-die game after not playing since April 30 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Kuhlman fit right in on the second line, providing a bit of speed and skill. He scored the Bruins third goal with a shot under the crossbar on his only shot of the game and was plus-2 in 13:07.
Video: BOS@STL, Gm6: Kuhlman buries first playoff goal
Jordan Binnington (down) -- The Blues goalie had been 3-0 in clinching games this postseason, but he allowed four goals on 31 shots on Sunday. Binnington had little chance on Marchand's goal but he may be haunted by the game-winner, a soft shot by defenseman Brandon Carlo that bounced once and went in off his blocker. He has allowed four or more goals in two of the past four games.
Blues power play (down) -- They had an early chance when Bruins forward Sean Kuraly took a delay-of-game penalty at 2:42 of the first period but could not convert on their three shots. St. Louis is 1-for-18 in the series while the Bruins are 7-for-21.
Blues fans (up) -- They showed up early and they showed up loud. The outdoor watch party was filled more than an hour before puck drop. Enterprise Center was nearly full for warmups. The fans clapped and sang during the pregame and they roared when the players came out onto the ice. The cheered again when Charles Glenn, who is retiring, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the final time, and they roared their approval when Bob Plager, Brett Hull and Bernie Federko started the "Let's Go Blues" chant. Understandably, their excitement waned when the Bruins built a 5-1 lead in the third period, but there were still intermittent chants in the dying seconds. And when the game ended, they sent the Blues off to chants of "We want the Cup."
Bruce Cassidy (up) -- The Bruins coach made all the right lineup decisions, as tough as they might have been. He put in Kuhlman, a rookie idle for more than a month, and scratched veteran David Backes. Cassidy also went back to six defensemen and 12 forwards after his team struggled to play with seven defensemen and 11 forwards in Game 5, a strategy adopted as protection in case the injured Zdeno Chara was ineffective playing with his facial injury.
Pat Maroon (down) -- Playing in the biggest game of his NHL career, in his hometown, the Blues forward did not have much of an impact during his 11:16, the second-lowest ice time among forwards, and was on the ice for two of the Bruins goals. He has yet to score a point in the series and has not had a shot in either of the past two games.
What we learned
The Bruins are unfazed by circumstances
The Bruins have developed an immunity to being intimidated. They played Game 6 in the most hostile of conditions, before a packed arena ready to celebrate a first championship in their 51-year history. They took an early penalty and were playing against the tide for much of the first seven minutes. But they took advantage of a 5-on-3 opportunity and then proceeded to strangle the life out of the game during 5-on-5 play to get to a Game 7 on Wednesday.
The Blues missed Barbashev
Barbashev was suspended one game for his hit to the head on Bruins forward Marcus Johansson in Game 5. His ability to get in on the forecheck and have a physical presence has been one of the keys to the success of the Blues. He has 80 hits in the postseason, second to Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks (81). The Blues had 29 hits in Game 6, their lowest total of the series. Forward Robert Thomas, coming off an injury, was not productive as his replacement. Playing for the first time since Game 1, Thomas played 9:21, had no shot attempts, one giveaway and was minus-2.
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